Great things come to those who put in the work. But to make your firm VITAL, you have to work smart. Avoid these mistakes and solidify your prospecting process.
How often do you struggle to find the ideal clients for your accounting firm? Are you stretching yourself thin trying to please everyone? And after all that work, are you failing to see the results you want? Are some clients draining you so much you don’t have the time or energy to prospect for new ones?
These things happen… but they aren’t random occurrences.
It often happens that you get stuck with a bad client because of mistakes made while prospecting. These errors are avoidable once you understand what they are and how they affect you.
Stacie learned that the hard way. Stacie is an insurance agent who quickly found out why identifying the right prospects is critical to success. At first, she was really struggling to find new customers.
But everything changed when she happened to stumble upon a different type of prospect during a cold walk-in sales visit. She found someone who was unhappy with their current agent and looking for a change.
After some research, she realised that up to 20% of commercial insurance buyers aren’t satisfied with their agents. This meant that finding those prospects and offering an alternative service would lead to conversions.
Her discovery readily carries over to other professional fields, such as accounting. And she would have realised it more quickly if she’d tried a different approach from the beginning. Don’t make the same mistakes she made…
Mistake #1 – Failing to Establish a Hunting Niche
If you don’t have a marketing or hunting niche, you risk turning your company into a generalist practice. This isn’t good for two simple reasons:
- You can easily attract the wrong clients
- You have to fight off more competition
Increased competition among generalist firms brings more problems than you may realise. Your practice will likely end up as just another fish in the pond.
Very few aspects of your business make you stand out from your competitors. You may be reduced to using pricing and location to try to compete. And that’s not nearly enough to secure new clients.
So, what does it mean to establish a hunting niche? It means creating a prospecting strategy that focuses on a specific type of clients. Identify your ideal client and focus on those prospects.
That’s not to say that you should turn away other businesses. Don’t put all your eggs in the same basket. However, you can become more relevant to your ideal prospects – those who contribute the most to your revenue.
Mistake #2 – Hunting for Vampire Clients
Almost every practice has at least one vampire client. It’s impossible to avoid them. And to be fair, some do bring in good business. Yet for the most part, this type of client is either needy or unreliable. And even one vampire client can drain your resources and take up most of your time.
This translates into poor performance when serving your other clients.
It’s much better for your practice – and your health – to search out another type of client. The radiator client. This is a client you enjoy working with. One you don’t mind getting additional work from. And one who lets you know just how valuable your practice is to their business.
One way to avoid working with vampire clients is to categorise your prospects. Put your client research to good use and assign each prospect to a category. You know what to do with the ones who fall in the “I don’t want to work with them” group.
Mistake #3 – Trying to Jump Straight Into the Sale
If you want your accounting firm to succeed, you need to prospect for new clients. And this is a delicate process. Even established companies can make the mistake of rushing into the sale.
An exciting prospect can receive hundreds of offers daily. And how many of those offers do you think get opened? Two percent if you’re lucky. And those are the attractive offers. Average proposals don’t get a second thought. When searching for clients, it’s essential to send a message that has meaning and impact.
Sounding too salesy in a proposal is the opposite of good prospecting. Landing a new client for your accounting firm is about establishing a connection. It helps to show that you understand their needs and problems.
If you spend more time talking about your client, and less about your company, you have a higher chance of getting through. To convey that you have a VITAL practice, demonstrate that you know this niche inside and out.
It’s also crucial to differentiate between prospecting and making a pitch. Prospecting is the first step towards creating a meaningful sales pitch. It’s the foundation of running a successful campaign. And that’s so important that we’ve designated it a marketing and sales superpower.
When you’re starting out prospecting, it’s a good idea to keep your messages short. The first message sent to any new prospect can be compelling if it contains three key points:
- Your reason for initiating contact
- What you can offer and help with
- A hook line that paves the way to further negotiations and a final pitch
For most prospects, sales messages come unscheduled and can disrupt day-to-day activities. So it’s best to condense the information in your message as much as you can.
Mistake #4 – Failing to Personalise Your Messages
It’s important that you offer your prospects value when you message them. Try to engage them and establish a connection early on. One of the biggest marketing mistakes you can make is creating a script and sticking to it.
It’s smart to have a clear and easy-to-follow template. That said, it’s critical to use the model as a starting point or guideline when you’re drafting your email or call script for a prospect.
Not all prospects have the same identity or the same business needs. While you may have the same email sequence or talk track, never send the same email or voicemail to your prospects. You need to use your research in these situations and target unique issues and goals for each one.
Personalising your messages shows that you have a high level of interest and good deductive reasoning skills. Use your client research, but change your messages to address new issues that come to light during the process.
Here are some tips for creating personal messages in an impersonal business world:
- Mention your prospect’s name or company name early on in your message or call
- Show that you have a firm understanding of what their company does and needs
- Refer to their customers or clients and show that you understand their audience too
- Provide links to online content that highlights your firm’s best attributes and area of expertise
If you do this, you may be able to kick another bad habit – sending too many bulk emails. It’s hard to get many conversions from bulk prospecting, because you get very few replies.
Mistake #5 – Not Having a Consistent Follow-Up Strategy
Many companies fail at converting leads into clients because they lack a follow-up strategy. This may sound like an oversimplification, but consider the following scenario…
Your company sends a personalised email to a prospect. The message does its job, generating engagement and interest. Time passes and you don’t hear back from the prospect. When you try again, the same thing happens. No response.
Why does that happen?
The prospect didn’t respond because initial communication needs follow-up messages or calls. Very few prospects call back after an initial offering. Especially potential clients who have a struggling business. They may be more inclined to seek or respond to other offers if a competing accounting firm shows more interest.
In light of that, you need to develop a robust follow-up strategy. This is one of the basic methods of improving your prospecting tactics. You can benefit from creating a template to serve as a guideline for all follow-ups.
Aim to provide more insight into why your services deserve further consideration.
Mistake #6 – Not Checking Your Prospects Against Your Ideal Client Persona
Always check your prospects against your ideal client persona. Many firms end up working with the wrong type of clients because they didn’t do enough research.
For example, a LinkedIn profile shows some characteristics. But it doesn’t paint a complete picture.
You need to assess whether your prospect has a big enough company to be worth your time. Does their company have a good reputation that won’t tarnish yours? Is it in an industry that your practice specialises in?
Answering these questions will save you precious time when trying to turn leads into prospects – and prospects into clients.
Draft a Superior Prospecting Strategy
Stacie realised that prospecting for ideal clients is easier and more lucrative than just cold-calling a bunch of people. Sometimes the easiest way to land your ideal clients is to show them that they’ll be working with a VITAL accounting firm.
Create a prospecting template as a guideline. Implement personalised messages as a main approach. And you can accomplish a lot more if you don’t appear needy or pushy.
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